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Residents urge golf course rejection Lower charges favored instead


Residents last night urged the Columbia Council to reject a proposed multimillion dollar golf course and implored the panel to reduce the annual charges they pay to support Columbia's recreational and other facilities.

The hearing on the proposed $30.6 million, 1993-94 Columbia Association budget drew vocal contingents from Running Brook in the Village of Wilde Lake and Kendall Ridge in the Village of Long Reach.

Running Brook residents contended that the proposed Fairway Hills golf course would increase the association's debt and place an unfair burden on property owners, who pay annual liens to finance Columbia's programs and facilities.

They also argued that a new golf course, which would be built in sections of Town Center, Wilde Lake and Dorsey's Search villages, would harm the environment.

The council, which sets policy for the association, is considering building either a nine-hole golf course for an estimated $3.4 million or an 18-hole one for $5.5 million.

The association operates Columbia's recreational and community facilities and open space.

Under the proposed budget, businesses and homeowners would continue to pay a property lien of 73 cents per $100 of assessed value next year. But many of the roughly 85 residents at the hearing expressed concern that the levy would increase if a golf course is built.

"Cut lien fees, not green trees," said Tom Scott, referring to concerns that woods around the Little Patuxent River would be removed to make way for a golf course. He said the association has not demonstrated that a golf course is favored by most residents.

Proponents of Fairway Hills argue that Hobbit's Glen, which is operated by the association, is overcrowded and that demand could support a second golf course and eventually make it profitable.

But Wilde Lake residents Richard and Maryann West pointed out that the county has plans to build at least one public golf course, which would help meet demand without financially burdening residents.

"It's unresponsive to the community," said Ms. West. "The primary concern is lowering lien payments. You should spend assessment money on items that matter most to the most people."

On another issue, Kendall Ridge residents, several carrying large signs, urged the nine-member council to include planning money in the budget for a neighborhood pool. They have argued for years that they are being denied a privilege that comes with living in Columbia.

Kendall Ridge resident Greg Douglas told the council he considered the "neighborhood concept of Columbia" when he purchased his home in 1989. A pool helps create a "sense of community," he said. The neighborhood, which has about 3,000 residents, deserves to be the site of Columbia's 22nd pool, especially because planned development could double the population, he said.

The association estimates a new pool would cost about $1 million.

The budget hearing will continue at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.

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